If you own a rental property, then you’ve probably had experiences with both good tenants and bad tenants over the years. While many rental horror stories involve property damage, you can also be left in the lurch if your tenants leave suddenly without paying the rent. A lease can protect your interests, but only to a certain extent, and only if you are able to enforce the terms. If your tenants have up and left with no advance warning, here are some of the steps you should take.
- Find New Tenants.
This may seem obvious, but if your property is now sitting empty, you need to start looking for new renters as soon as possible. This will minimize your losses by bringing in new income. Make sure you ask for references (and check them!) from potential tenants, ask for proof of income, and check their credit to protect yourself from being caught in the same situation in the future.
- Track Down the Old Tenants.
Even if it seems like your tenants have disappeared for good, you may be able to track them down. Try reaching them through any means of contact you have (like an email address, cell phone number, or work phone number). You can also try sending them mail at their last known address and asking for address change service – you will have to pay a fee for the postal service to provide you with their new address. Neighbors and work associates may be another good resource to check with. Your tenants probably told someone they were moving.
- Sue or Settle?
Whether you decide to take legal action or not will depend on how much money they owed you and how difficult it would be to pursue the case. If you do decide to sue, you should consult a lawyer who is knowledgeable about pertinent state-specific statutes. Be cautious, especially if you don’t have a formal lease agreement, since the tenant may claim they had a justifiable reason for leaving. If their argument stands up in court, you could be left paying the legal fees. Additionally, if the tenant does not have the money to pay, and doesn’t have any valuable assets, a finding in your favor might not result in payment of the missed rent.
Holliday Investigative Services has more than 30 years of experience with tracking down missing persons, and access to specialized databases and tools that can help in difficult cases. We also offer process services, should you decide to sue them once we track them down.